After sharing my childhood opinions on orange and madras, I thought it only fitting to share a color I've always loved, but still always had trouble wearing: Purple.

Purple is an unusual color. There's something inherently fun and attention-grabbing about it. It has history as a regal color, in part because purple dyes were rare and expensive. It's not common in nature. It can be so close to blue, which is so easy to wear, yet so different.

How should you wear it? Can you dress it up? Can it be a muted, practical tone, or is it always loud? What are the best pairings?

I'll explore multiple shades of purple. I'll explore several non-neutral color combos: purple and yellow complementary, secondary triadic, purple tonal. I'll explore it in several slots: accessory, shirt, knit, suit. I'll explore it in wool and corduroy. By the time I'm done, I'm sure you'll have an idea or two you can't wait to implement.

The Notre Dame Rose Window by Julie Anne Workman. Licensed under the CC-BY-SA 3.0. Note that all of my article text is available under the CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Accessories

We're going to start off simple.

As a threshold matter for the skeptics: yes, of course you can wear purple. A pair of socks is barely visible. Here, they're worn with loafers that are cut low enough to show them off at least a little bit -- more when seated. Easy move, right?

Think of things like this that won't always be visible -- jacket linings... suspenders, if you're into that. Or temporary accessories -- scarves and hats you intend to take off once you get indoors. Or small accessories, like pocket squares!

@i.t.attitude
Kent Wang's Rose Window Pocket Square.

Shirts

Dress shirts in pastel purples are also quite easy to wear. As a matter of fact, after selecting a white, blue, and white-blue patterned dress shirt, I would argue that pastel purples and pinks are the most natural progression as a third or fourth shirt color. It's not a crazy color to wear, it's almost a basic!

Louder purples, as below, are more strictly casual. Still wearable, but back in the "fun" space you might associate with the color.

Here's a deper purple flannel overshirt from @vinson.ch. Just in case you thought pastel was the only option. Granted, this is obviously more casual. 

Cardigans

A purple cardigan makes a great midlayeer as a pop of color. Note @dapperclassic's pairing, on the left, with complementary cords, Izumi, in the center with the neutral grey, and @piousc_ on the right with the triadic secondaries.

Turtlenecks

A turtleneck isn't a midlayer like a cardigan. Here, we see chunky midlayers from No Man Walks Alone (top right) and @r.o.n.c_ (bottom), and a more moderate one from @dapperpassion (top left), taking the place of a shirt layer. Three great color combos -- navy, gray, and green -- all let the purple do the talking.

Hoodies and Sweatshirts

If you're going to be casual, you might as well have fun with it. A pastel purple sweatshirt can fit a palewave / pastel / comfycore setup quite nicely, and a loud one, while harder to pair, can be a great casual statement piece.

Crew Necks

I could have just had one big knit section, but I thought I'd break it down. You get the idea, purple knits are cool.

Obligatory Jason Jules shot.

Complementary and Triadic Color Schemes

Yellow, as a complimentary color to purple, is the most obvious pairing. The problem is, both colors are quite loud, and the high tonal contrast of complimentary colors makes balancing an outfit around this particular pairing quite hard. Obvious, but not easy. For more, see @dapperclassic's mustard cords above, and the Needles tracksuits below.

The triadic secondary color scheme, shown below on Marco, is even harder to balance. See it above, on @piousc_, as well, to see how it pays off.

Marco in a rare example of a good secondary triadic balance: purple cords, green jacket, green-and-orange hoodie. These colors are equidistant from one another on the color wheel.

Purple Corduroy

@brokeandbespoke, left, and Buzz Tang, center, show that purple cords can be smart. Marco, on the right, wearing Needles shows that they can be fun.

Corduroy takes to color well, so it stands to reason that you'd dye it with the most fun color you can find.

18 East went nuts with the printed purple cord set below...

18 East

Purple Suits

The above suits, in varying shades, worked surprisingly well. You don't expect purple to feel this... classic, but here we are. They look as loud as you thought they would be, but strangely still wearable, right? They're not business suits, but not clown suits, and not that casual.

Well, we have some more casual "suits" below...

Bell hop suits are suits. Wes Anderson really likes to have fun with color, huh?

Purple Corduroy Suits

Ethan Wong and Nicola Radano had a similar idea. As cord suits are becoming a more popular option, why not get some in the color corduroy was made for? I love the result, Deep and rich, like navy with a funky twist.

The left suit is made by Atelier Fugue, a great MTM shop that deals primarily in cotton suiting. Ethan loves them.

Doubled Up

And now we get to the title of this album, stolen from a PG-13 line out of a Pablo Neruda poem. Doubled purple -- purple, with more purple. or, in the cases below, more purple than that. You could call many of these "tonal" fits -- wearing the same color in different shades in multiple places. The needles fit above doesn't qualify as tonal, but it's doubled up, so I put it here.

@acutestyle in a purple dres shirt, purple cardigan, purple tie, and purple pants from Ralph Lauren Purple Label (which is, naturally, the highest line of Ralph Lauren clothing). The result a super clean tonal look. I love it.
Purple Rain, Purple Rain...

Don't Think I Forgot About The Inauguration

The role of purple at the inauguration was, reportedly, not to reflect royalty, but to signify a willingness to reach across the aisle -- as a mix of "red" and "blue." For those of you outside the US, those colors signify the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, so mixing them was supposedly a gesture of good will from Democrats to Republicans.

Also, I hear President Biden's suit had a purple tag on it.

Closing Thoughts

So what have we learned? Purple can pair well with neutrals like navy and gray -- the former being almost tonal -- but also with yellow, green, or orange and green... or, of course, with more purple. You can dress it up surprisingly far, but it's certainly still at home dressed down. It looks good in pastel tones, navy-adjacent tones, and even the occasional magenta-tones. It can look good on socks, other accessories, shirts, knits, cords, suits... and if you look below, chinos and jackets and... Well, everything else.

Does this mean purple is easy to wear now? Not really. Each of these fits still required a certain balance. But now that you have an idea of the considerations that go into achieving that balance, you don't need it to be easy -- you're now prepared to do it the hard way.

... Now here's some more fucking purple.

More Fucking Purple

~ Read next post in inspo ~

Collars Gone Wild

Posted by Daniel Hakimi

8 min read